Close up of drummer's hands playing a drum kit. Drums are very loud, the player should be wearing hearing protection.

Musicians rock. Their songs bring us so much happiness. But music is a lot more powerful when it’s loud, and that can be a hearing risk. The musicians themselves are at an even greater risk of hearing damage since they are exposed to loud music nearly every day.

As you grow older, you’ll still want to be capable of enjoying your favorite music whether you’re a musician or not. The key to having a long successful career, for musicians, is protecting their hearing. Hearing protection is also key to a lifetime of musical enjoyment for everyone.

Sometimes it can be surprising how loud music can be

Most people would say that a jet engine is really loud.

Is music actually that loud? If you ask someone whether an acoustic guitar or a lone violin is loud, they might not reply so quickly. Usually, when they hear the answer, they’re pretty surprised: that music is indeed loud! Your ears can even be damaged by classical music which can reach relatively high volumes.

Sounds higher than 90 dB can be produced by a violin, for example. That’s around as loud as a leaf blower. In Europe, for instance, they have regulations that require ear protection for anyone who works in a setting where there is noise above 85 dB.

And if you’re working with music on a daily basis, constant exposure to that sort of volume, especially without hearing protection, can severely damage your hearing over time.

Can you protect your ears from noise damage?

Okay, musicians who want to maintain their hearing for years to come need to safeguard their hearing. So what can musicians do to protect their hearing and still enjoy the music they enjoy so much?

Well, here are a couple of simple things musicians can do:

  • Track your volume: Everybody knows the old saying “knowledge is power”. So being aware of volume levels of sounds around you will help you safeguard your hearing. Sometimes, this is as simple as keeping track of your volume settings on amps and receivers. But you can also keep track of day-to-day volume levels of external noises using a decibel meter app that you can download on your cellphone. If the meter reads above 85dB regularly, you’ll want to do something about this.
  • Take breaks: Much like any part of your body, your ears can become tired and may need to get a little rest. So take frequent breaks from the noise. This will help stop your ears from becoming overwhelmed with sound (and damage). Regarding hearing, how long you’re exposed is almost as important as how loud it is. The difference between the perfect amount of stimulation and too much can come down to taking frequent breaks.

hearing protection is important

Of course, the single most beneficial thing you can do to protect your ears is simple: wearing hearing protection of some kind. Lots of musicians are worried that hearing protection will muffle the sound and impact its overall sound quality. But depending on what type of hearing protection you use, that may not always be true.

  • Ear plugs made specifically for musicians: Most individuals are probably familiar with disposable ear plugs. They don’t always fit well, but they do reliably block a lot of sound. They’re not hard to find, aren’t expensive, and can be disposed of easily. And they aren’t best suited for musicians. However, by spending just a little more money, you can buy high-quality earplugs designed chiefly for musicians. A special material and modern engineering are used to help these earplugs fit snuggly in the ear and reduce external noise by about 20% while maintaining the audio fidelity. For musicians who need a moderate level of protection on a budget, this solution is perfect.
  • Electronic earplugs: The same basic functionality found in non-electronic earplugs can also be found in electronic earplugs. Most of the sound will be blocked by the earplug itself. But the earplug itself will send in the sound you hear. This option is perfect for those who work in particularly loud settings, and who are looking for more options in terms of controlling volume.
  • In-ear monitors: Most music is electronic these days, or at least amplified by electronics. A device, called an in-ear-monitor, is placed in your ear and sends signals in electronically. It’s like a specialized little speaker for your ear, and the majority of monitors can block out sound from the outside environment (thanks to a fairly tight fit and special design). So you regulate the volume level and are able to hear sound accurately and clearly. For musicians who electronically amplify their instruments these in-ear-monitors are the ideal solution.

Protect your career by protecting your hearing

It’s best to begin safeguarding your hearing early, before any significant damage occurs. Everybody can protect their hearing and future with hearing protection solutions at all price points. Remember, ear protection for a musician is an investment in your career. It’s one way to be certain you’ll be making amazing music for many years (maybe even decades) to come!

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